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User:Philip J. Rayment/Argument by frustration

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This is an essay by Philip J. Rayment.
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A type of argument that is counterproductive

Philip J. Rayment

Argument by frustration is what I'm calling a response frequently made by anti-creationists, although I'm not suggesting that they are the only ones who use it.

It goes something like this:

  • Creationist: "Here's why evolution is wrong."
  • Evolutionist: "Here's some evidence why evolution is correct and creationism is wrong."
  • C: "On the contrary, your argument fails because of X, Y, and Z."

This may go on for some time, or it may all be over very quickly. However, the outcome is usually that neither side is convinced by the other. But later...

  • C: "Evolution is wrong because..."
  • E: "What are you? Stupid? It's already been explained why you are wrong."

The problem here is that there is a presumption by the evolutionist that he has already won the argument. Yes, he is convinced that he has offered a satisfactory defence of evolution. But the creationist thinks the same thing about his own case. This is a form of begging the question. In the original discussion, there was genuine debate. But in the second discussion, there is merely a presumption over the very thing that is in dispute. It is logically invalid as an argument, and is (in this case, and frequently) also an abusive ad hominem argument.

Both sides get frustrated at the inability of the other side to see sense. But both sides do not normally stoop to denigrating their opponent, as so often happens with the evolutionists. These evolutionists don't just stoop to denigration, they justify it on the grounds that the creationists must be stupid because, after all, evolution is correct! Again, we see abusive ad hominem based on begging the question.

I'm sure that it works the other way also. That is, creationists also get frustrated and resort to abusive ad hominem. But I don't see it anywhere near as much as by evolutionists, and I don't see it from leading creationists. Yes, there is a little bit of sarcasm at times, and some gentle mockery, and certainly some criticism, but nothing on the scale of the vituperation spewed by some anti-creationists.

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